Proposals for increasing organ donation are often rejected as incompatible with altruistic motivation on the part of donors. This paper questions, on conceptual grounds, whether most organ donors really are altruistic. If we distinguish between altruism and solidarity – a more restricted form of other-concern, limited to members of a particular group – then most organ donors exhibit solidarity, rather than altruism. If organ donation really must be altruistic, then we have reasons to worry about the motives of existing donors. (...) However, I argue that altruism is not necessary, because organ donation supplies important goods, whatever the motivation, and we can reject certain dubious motivations, such as financial profit, without insisting on altruism.Once solidaristic donation is accepted, certain reforms for increasing donation rates seem permissible. This paper considers two proposals. Firstly, it has been suggested that registered donors should receive priority for transplants. While this proposal appears based on a solidaristic norm of reciprocity, it is argued that such a scheme would be undesirable, since non-donors may contribute to society in other ways. The second proposal is that donors should be able to direct their organs towards recipients that they feel solidarity with. This is often held to be inconsistent with altruistic motivation, but most donation is not entirely undirected in the first place (for instance, donor organs usually go to co-nationals). While allowing directed donation would create a number of practical problems, such as preventing discrimination, there appears to be no reason in principle to reject it. (shrink)
In an earlier article, I argued that David Estlund's notion of ‘normative consent’ could provide justification for an opt-out system of organ donation that does not involve presumptions about the deceased donor's consent. Where it would be wrong of someone to refuse their consent, then the fact that they have not actually given it is irrelevant, though an explicit denial of consent (as in opting out) may still be binding. My argument has recently been criticised by Potts et al, who (...) argue that such a policy would involve taking organs from people whose organs should not be taken and would be a recipe for totalitarianism. The present response seeks to rebut both the ethical and political objections. I argue that people can indeed be under a moral obligation to donate their organs, even if they are not technically dead at the time and their donation does not save anyone else's life. Moreover, I argue that an opt-out system—unlike mandatory donation—is not totalitarian because it preserves the right of individuals to act morally wrongly, by opting out when they have no good moral reason to do so. The policy I propose is neither immoral nor totalitarian. (shrink)
Democracy is commonly associated with political equality and/or majority rule. This essay shows that these three ideas are conceptually separate, so the transition from any one to another stands in need of further substantive argument, which is not always adequately given. It does this by offering an alternative decision-making mechanism, called lottery voting, in which all individuals cast votes for their preferred options but, instead of these being counted, one is randomly selected and that vote determines the outcome. This procedure (...) is democratic and egalitarian, since all have an equal chance to influence outcomes, but obviously not majoritarian. (shrink)
Fairness is a central, but under-theorized, notion in moral and political philosophy. This paper makes two contributions. Firstly, it criticizes Broome’s seminal account of fairness in ( 1990–1991 ) Proc Aristotelian Soc 91:87–101, showing that there are problems with restricting fairness to a matter of relative satisfaction and holding that it does not itself require the satisfaction of the claims in question. Secondly, it considers the justification of lotteries to resolve cases of ties between competing claims, which Broome claims as (...) support for his theory, and contrasts random procedures to contests of skill, which may also be considered lotteries in a broader sense. I offer no alternative account of fairness of my own, but hope to point the way for future research on the nature of fairness. (shrink)
Mill's most famous departure from Bentham is his distinction between higher and lower pleasures. This article argues that quality and quantity are independent and irreducible properties of pleasures that may be traded off against each other higher pleasures’ lexically dominate lower ones, and that the distinction is compatible with hedonism. I show how this interpretation not only makes sense of Mill but allows him to respond to famous problems, such as Crisp's Haydn and the oyster and Nozick's experience machine.
This paper examines the problem of selecting a number of candidates to receive a good (admission) from a pool in which there are more qualified applicants than places. I observe that it is rarely possible to order all candidates according to some relevant criterion, such as academic merit, since these standards are inevitably somewhat vague. This means that we are often faced with the task of making selections between near-enough equal candidates. I survey one particular line of response, which says (...) that we should allow our choice of borderline candidates to be guided by non-relevant criteria such as gender-balancing. I argue that this would not, as commonly objected, be a case of sex discrimination if it is to be applied either in favour of men or women. Nonetheless, I argue that such policies are problematic because they violate the demand for publicity, which is required for legitimacy and to assure everyone that discrimination has not in fact taken place. Instead, I suggest that, if we are concerned to avoid discrimination, there may be a case for using lotteries as tie-breakers, not on grounds of fairness but to prevent taint of bias. (shrink)
The three most common responses to Taurek’s ‘numbers problem’ are saving the greater number, equal chance lotteries and weighted lotteries. Weighted lotteries have perhaps received the least support, having been criticized by Scanlon What We Owe to Each Other ( 1998 ) and Hirose ‘Fairness in Life and Death Cases’ ( 2007 ). This article considers these objections in turn, and argues that they do not succeed in refuting the fairness of a weighted lottery, which remains a potential solution to (...) cases of conflict. Moreover, it shows how these responses actually lead to a new argument for weighted lotteries, appealing to fairness and Pareto-optimality. (shrink)
Lotteries have long been used to resolve competing claims, yet their recent implementation to allocate school places in Brighton and Hove, England led to considerable public outcry. This article argues that, given appropriate selection is impossible when parties have equal claims, a lottery is preferable to an auction because it excludes unjust influences. Three forms of contractualism are discussed and the fairness of lotteries is traced to the fact that they give each person an equal chance, as a surrogate for (...) their equal claim to the good. It is argued that this can be a reason to favour an artificially-constructed lottery to a 'natural' lottery where there is suspicion that the latter may be biased. (shrink)